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Sunday, December 30, 2012


No not in Louisiana.  We're here in Red Lodge, Montana with Scott, Bevi, Ella, Unca Mike, and Jessica for a week.  Last year we did our first (and hopefully last) home exchange with Don and Becky.  They stayed at our home in Thibodaux for a week and now we are using our part of the exchange.  We flew up on Thursday, rented a couple cars and drove from Billings to Red Lodge.
Beautiful scenery and snow everywhere.  Friday we played in the snow at the house, Ella's first snow.
Then yesterday the kids went skiing while we played with Ella.  We met them for lunch and watched them (try to) ski.  Today we may drive into town and check out the wildlife sanctuary.
There are deer everywhere, Ella has been enjoying feeding cocoa puffs to the deer.
Monday we have a sleigh ride scheduled in town for the group.
Oh yeah, still waiting on closing.  Supposed to be the 21st, then the 26th, now won't be until late next week.  It seems the underwriter keeps coming up with another document needed from the buyers.  You'd think they would have gotten all of this done when they first scheduled closing.  Anyway we hope it'll be soon.  We are completely out of the house, what furniture and other things we are keeping are in storage.  Families and friends have taken what they wanted, Habitat Restore made 3 trips to pick up stuff.  Our plans are to travel in the coach for a few years then buy a much smaller house or condo later.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Important update

We finally have a sale on the house!!
We were in Phoenix when our agent called.  The house was off the market, we decided to relist it in the spring.  After showing our house we received an offer, went back and forth and finally got a price that would work.  So we decided to drive back in the coach.  Unfortunately Cindy got a call that her aunt Nez had passed away.  She lived a great life to 94!  We will all miss her dearly.
We drove to El Paso on Sunday and Monday morning brought Cindy to the airport so she could fly home for the funeral.  I spent the next few days driving through Texas.  Finally made it home on Wednesday just in time to see Ella in her school Thanksgiving skit.
Well we've been pretty darn busy getting ready to sell and disposing of quite a lot of stuff.  We will put just a few pieces of furniture and tools from the barn into storage while we spend a few years living and travelling in the coach.  One day we'll buy another place, probably at the Greens in Pelican Point.  But there is no reason to buy anything just now.
Got a call yesterday, the appraisal is accepted and we are just waiting for the closing date.  Supposed to be the 21st. 
So I guess that means we better move our stuff into storage this weekend.  Then we plan to stay at Poche Plantation RV in Convent until mid-February.  Scott is running his first marathon in the Mardi Gras Marathon so we'd like to be there to cheer him on.
Oh yeah, Santa came early and dropped off my present:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

London Bridge is falling down....

our view these last few days on the Colorado River

Steve & Patty's classic Newell

London Bridge
Well, don't know yet but we plan to find out later today.
We left Cottonwood on Tuesday and drove to North Ranch an Escapees park in Congress, AZ.  This is a nice park with typical gravel campsites for short term stays and a nice subdivision with anything from RV's to houses.
A friend called and invited us to spend a few days with them at Emerald Cove, a membership park in Earp, CA along the Colorado River.  So why not?  It's only a hundred miles or so, so we unhooked yesterday morning and drove over. It was a nice drive, but there is a lot of desert out here, until the gps had me turn onto a dead end street!  Luckily I was able to turn into a Walmart parking lot and unhook the truck.  I called Steve and he was at Safeway across the street.  Serendipity!  So we followed him to the campground.  We checked in and got parked then visited until happy hour.
We met Steve and Patty at our Newell mini-rally in Creede a few years ago.
Today we may drive up to Lake Havasu City where the original London Bridge was rebuilt.  Well it was pretty un-inspiring.... but I guess every town has to have its star.
Yesterday we cooked a smoked turkey & sausage gumbo and enjoyed sharing with Steve & Patty.  Today we're just hangin', tomorrow we head back to Congress and explore around there.  Supposed to be a ghost town or two.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Colors

We drove into Cottonwood and went straight to the coach in storage.  First problem, I had parked next to a fence thinking that would leave only one side vulnerable.  Well some crazy bush with 1/2" thorns decided to grow through the fence blocking the door!  No way to squeeze past so I had to break each branch.  Once inside we were glad to find everything ok.  So I started the engine, let the systems air up, and started the generator while Cindy opened windows.  We drove to our site in the campground and I hooked up while Cindy cleaned up inside.  Then we drove into town for groceries.  A while later we noticed water on the floor by the toilet.  AAARGH!  yep the fill valve was leaking.  No place nearby to get another one, but not really a problem, just have to keep a cup of water to flush.  That will work until we can get back to Phoenix.
The weather is great, high of about 82, low into the 30's.  Really enjoying our time here. 
Yesterday I replaced one of the baseboard heaters.  Now Cindy has heat on her side.  I also added a shelf for the printer where the main TV was.  Oh yeah, we also mailed in our ballots.  Don't forget to vote!
Today we drove up AZ 260 into the mountains and drove the Mogollon Rim.  Beautiful drive, with trees.  Don't see many trees in the desert but our campground is along the Verde River so there are a lot of cottonwoods here.  We went mainly to try and find fall colors from the leaves changing.  Looks like we are about 2 weeks too late for peak color but did see some nice colors.  This area is primarily pine trees but whenever there are oaks, aspen, or maples you see some beautiful colors.  Bright yellows, deep golden, and bright reds. 
Oh yeah we saw a bull elk crossing the road about 100' in front of us as we drove down a small dirt road.  Also a few fox squirrels and chipmunks.
We had an enjoyable day driving the Mogollon Rim.  Now for dinner, Cindy cooked a very good chicken spaghetti, yumm.  Mass tomorrow.

look real close and you can the elk

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dear Santa....

I really, really, want a RZR for Christmas!
Cindy and I spent the day in a rented RZR having a blast.  These things are off-road go-karts! 
We left home on Thursday morning in the truck and stopped for the night in Kerrville, TX.  Then continued driving west stopping for lunch to eat a really great hamburger at the "Steak House" in Fort Stockton.  Seriously, that was the name.  Not very creative but one of these great small town cafes with great food and inexpensive.  We spent the night in Deming, NM.  Then arrived at Tom and Darlene's on Sunday afternoon.  We've been enjoying our visit with our friends.
This morning we drove out to Cave Creek to pick up the RZR and spent the day driving through the deserts, slot canyons, up and down steep mountains.  Had a great time, Cindy had to grab the "oh s*it" bar quite a few times.  The weather was really nice, low 80's and sunny, with LOW humidity.
Thursday morning we'll drive up to Cottonwood and get the coach out of storage.  We might spend a week around Cottonwood.  We would like to see Sedona.  Last trip out here Sedona was really crowded with no place to park.  So we'll see.  After that we'll spend another day up in Jerome.  Then head somewhere not sure where yet.  We do plan to meet up with some other Newell owners at Senator Wash near Yuma and boondock for a week or two.  Then we'll meander until it's time to put the coach in storage for the winter back in Cottonwood and head home for Thanksgiving.

And Santa, I promise I've been really good this year....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Out of Africa

Tuesday spent the day in the Medina without a guide.  We took a taxi to the King's Palace and walked through the Medina back to our Riad.  We found that the shopkeepers were a little more aggressive but not too bad.  If you would look at something they would come over and try to get you to buy something.  But it was pretty easy to just walk away.  But if you would ask a price then it was very difficult to get them to let you get away.  One time Cindy asked about an item and the shopkeeper said $500 Dirhams (local currency about 11 cents US), she offered $100, well he got offended and told her to "go away, go away".  Pretty funny.  Later on she found a similar item and tried bargaining again, started at $500 Dh and he would only come down to $200 Dh, Cindy wanted to only spend $150 Dh.  As she walked away another younger guy came up with a much nicer quality item and after bickering back and forth, with Cindy walking away a few times, and him waiting then chasing her down she got him down to $170 Dh!  We think he worked for the same shopkeeper.  Way to go Cindy, and she got a much nicer item.  It can be fun and frustating to bargain with them.  Once you start bargaining it is very difficult to leave without buying something.  But at some point they'll just say "no problem" and leave you alone.  Overall we found the Moroccan people friendly and helpful, but they don't hesitate to ask for a few Dh's if they think they have given you something.
Later on we passed by a small 1 room school and peeked inside.  The teacher invited us inside to visit with the children who were about 6-8 years old.  We all had a great time playing with the kids.  They were very interested in hearing us speak.  Cindy showed them how to count to 10 in American and they loved it.  Beautiful kids.  Of course the teacher asked for a small donation to help with the school, so we did.
After getting back to our Riad Cindy and I did a cooking class with the chef, Fatima.  It was pretty interesting to see the different spices they use.  Of course one time when I forgot and was stirring a pot with my left hand she seemed shocked that I would use my left hand to prepare food.  She said that they don't use their left hand for preparing or eating food.  I had to explain that I was left handed and it was difficult for me to remember to not use my left hand.   She was surprised that Americans use their left hands for food.  Difficult cultures, but this is really a cultural/religious Muslim tradition.
It was really difficult to remember to eat only with my right hand.
Well, we ended up missing our 7 am train so took the 10 am train to Tangier where we would take the 4 pm ferry to Tarifa.  Nope, train took longer than we thought and got to Tangier at 3:40.  Got a taxi to the ferry station, went to passport control and hit a bottleneck.  Finally got through and literally ran to the ferry only to see it pull away as we got to the dock.  Oh well, so we sat in the shade and waited an hour for the next ferry.  Finally got into Tarifa, David went ahead of Denise, Cindy, and I with the luggage so he could get the car out of the parking garage before it closed.  Then an hour and half drive to Marbella for a couple nights.  We passed by the rock of Gibraltar and saw it lit up with spotlights, pretty impressive.
So today we're just relaxing and resting from our difficult day of travel yesterday.  Tomorrow we catch our 9:30 flight to Madrid, then Dallas, and finally the Big Easy!  Scott is planning to pick us up at the airport.  I just hope we can sleep when we get in so we'll be rested Saturday to see Ella!

won't see women in these coffee shops

Cindy bargaining hard

sometimes you think the walls might collapse

Monday, September 10, 2012

a different world

This morning after a wonderful Moroccan breakfast we met our guide Hassan.  Hassan took us for 4 hours walking through the medina.  Fes has the largest medina in the muslim world and was first built 1400 years ago.  The medina has 230,000 people living in it and is a UNESCO world heritage site.  We could only walk through some of the numerous alleys where there are countless shops selling anything you could image that the people need for daily use.  Most of the items are made there at the shops and are almost all handmade.  The hide tannery for instance uses only natural lime, salt, dyes, pigeon poop! and no machinery is involved.  The tailors use either needle & thread or OLD sewing machines.  Not much technology except for cell phones.
All of the items brought from outside like food products or wood or even the animal hides are brought either by hand cart or donkeys or mules.  Quite a few times Hassan would tell us to hug the wall as a heavily loaded donkey would pass by.  The alleys are quite small.
The sights and smells were overwhelming at times, especially at the tannery.  As we entered the building to climb to the terrace and overlook the tanning pits they handed us fresh mint to sniff when the smell became too bad.  Fascinating to watch the workers standing in the various pits either stirring the hides with a wooden pole or just using their feet to stir the hides.
There were shops selling fresh meat, vegetables, candies, olives, handmade sandals, just about everything to support such a large community.  A lot of the people probably have never been outside of the medina.  Their houses have no windows facing outside only an entrance door.  But inside there is a courtyard and the windows open to this central courtyard creating a private space.  Similar to our Riad, but I'm sure not quite as nice.
One thing we noticed were the difference in the generations- the older people all wore the traditional gowns and were mostly very colorful.  The younger ones wore less of the traditional garments and the kids usually just wore shorts and teeshirts.
Of all the place we've been to on our 5 week adventure this was by far the most exotic.  Certainly it will remain in our memories for quite some time.
cutting thick brass with a hammer and chisel

the hide tannery pits

beast of burden

sewing thread

many different candies

various salads for our lunch

makin' groceries

fried chicken?

David learning a new trade

Cindy can't decide what to buy